Steps to Self-Improvement

Ever heard of shadowing?

I got exposed to shadowing for the first time a few years ago, when my Japanese teacher tried it on me. Developed by American Alexander Arguelles, the concept is simple: the language student listens to a stream of speech, and repeats what is said. But you don’t wait until a block of speech is done; you have a lag time that’s as short as you can make it.

So, listening and speaking occur simultaneously; the student “shadows” what they listen to. It is challenging, especially when you just start learning a language. But it’s a good learning exercise. You pick up intonation, pronunciation, grammar, and even get a taste of natural speed. It’s great.

A few weeks ago, during an interpreting session in which I was completely lost and needed my team member to feed me signs, I realised: Shadowing would be an important part of developing JSL skills, too. In fact, a sign language interpreter in a team setting should be able to shadow effectively, or it will be a problem to repeat what a team member feeds you.

So, I decided to do this. I think… once or twice a week should be a good starting point. I’m going to find a JSL (or ASL) video by a native signer and shadow it. And I won’t ignore Hebrew or Japanese!!!!

Deaf Journal…

I bought this little treasure at a supermarket:



I decided I should try to take some moments out of my week and just write in my new 日記 (nikki, journal) to practice writing. I imagine I’ll be writing mostly in Japanese and Jamaican Creole, but I’ll try to include some Hebrew, too, even though my Hebrew skills are…. (Or perhaps especially since my Hebrew skills are…)

In summary…

So, I suspect I’ll be raiding YouTube for JSL/ASL videos, and 昔話のジャンル別 for Japanese audio to shadow. Stay away from my journal, or I’ll make you suffer. (Fair warning’s due, right?)

Until next time, precious readers.

This entry was posted in JSL, Miscellaneous Language Issues, 日本語 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Steps to Self-Improvement

  1. Shadowing is a great tool for learning any language! I was watching a movie last night in which the students practiced shadowing to learn French. I’m surprised it’s not implemented more in a lot of these online language learning tools.


  2. Agostina says:

    Your post was really enlightening! I have never thought of shadowing as a technique to improve language pronunciation. When I first came up with the term in one of my translation classes, we used the techinque of shadowing to build interpreter`s skills. However, it is a good idea to improve language skills in languges whose pronunciation is difficult like Japanese or English.


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